An Taisce concern at potential removal of protection to NPWS staff
A serious concern has emerged in recent days in terms of the protection afforded NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Staff) in the performance of their duties.
An Taisce understands that the Heritage Bill 2016 [Note 1] proposes to repeal a paragraph of the Wildlife Act [Note 2] which provides protection from assault or obstruction, to an authorised person or a member of the Garda Síochána exercising any power or function conferred on the authorised person or member by or under the Wildlife Acts, 1976 and 2000.
The section provides protection and a deterrent against assault to NPWS rangers who are often working on their own in isolated areas of the country and confronting criminals. Whereas, assaulting anyone is generally a criminal offence, with the repeal of this paragraph, Rangers will lose the protection from obstruction. Interestingly, within the same Bill, authorised officers of the Waterways are given that protection from obstruction. [Note 3]
The proposed removal of the section has been expressed by members of the Rangers’ Union as an issue of grave concern. It suggests a serious lack of support of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, for NPWS rangers in their capacity to exercise their powers when necessary.
The Heritage Bill 2016, comes before Seanad once more on Thursday 17th and An Taisce is seeking an explanation from the Minister for this change and calls upon Senators to refuse it.
Fintan Kelly, Natural Environment Officer, An Taisce. Tel: +353 1 707 7063
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
Heritage Bill 2016 is Part 3, Section 11 (2) in the Heritage Bill 2016 - https://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/bills/2016/216/b216s.pdf
(2) The following provisions are repealed:
(a) paragraph (a) of section 63 and section 68 of the Act of 2000;
(b) paragraph (c) of subsection (3) of section 69 of the Act of 1976;
(c) Section 7 of the Act of 2010.
Paragraph (c) of subsection (3) of section 69 of the Act of 1976 refers to an amended section introduced to the Wildlife Act 1976 by the Wildlife Amendment Act 2000 (Section 63, (c); which amends Section 69 of the 1976 Act). http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2000/act/38/enacted/en/print#sec63
“(c) Any person who assaults or obstructs an authorised person or a member of the Garda Síochána exercising any power or function conferred on the authorised person or member by or under the Wildlife Acts, 1976 and 2000, shall be guilty of an offence.”,
**PART 2 Canals **
Authorised Officers 7B
(8) A person shall not
(a) obstruct, impede or otherwise interfere with an authorised officer in the performance of his or her functions under this Act or canal bye-laws, or
(9) A person who contravenes or fails to comply with subsection (7) or (8) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a class D fine.
About An Taisce
An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.